Childbirth: forewarning signs and labour

Childbirth has several phases and it is important to know and understand them because they will determine how far you are in the delivery process.

Many forewarning signs will tell you that your body is getting ready and that labour is progressing even if you are not experiencing any pain or obvious symptoms.

Although the date of birth remains a good reference point during your pregnancy, not many women actually deliver on that exact date. From the 37th week of pregnancy, labour can start at any time. However, unless it's your 4th or 5th pregnancy, don’t expect everything to get into motion in record time!

Since your 35th week of pregnancy, your doctor’s visits have been on a weekly basis. This way, the doctor can tell  if labour has started by examining the cervix.

Some forewarning signs may appear at 36 or 37 weeks of pregnancy. Here are a few:

  • The Braxton-Hicks contractions, also known as false contractions may occur.
  • The significant augmentation in vaginal discharge announces changes. They become more abundant, thicker and start to change color. They become brownish and may even have blood strands. Usually, this appears a couple of days or even hours before the real labour begins. It lets you know that the cervix’s mucus plug is about to give out and be ejected through the vagina. Stay calm and near your house. Avoid public places and crowded shopping centres.
Mucus plug

Once the mucus plug has given out, labour can start at any time. The pain is then very subtle and irregular. Be alert and start timing their frequency. Wait until the pain is constant and regular before calling the hospital and announcing your arrival. However, if your water breaks, you should not wait to feel the contractions and should head out to the hospital immediately.

If you are not experiencing any pain after the mucus plug has been ejected, the next step is to wait for your water to break. Manifesting his desire to exit the womb, the baby will push on the membrane that is holding the water in which he is bathing and it could break at any time. The membrane can break anywhere, whether you are at home, in a public place or even upon arriving at the hospital when you have regular contractions. No delivery is the same but every step and forewarning signs will occur for labour to take place.

  • The leaking fluid after the water breaks can be in large quantities or little continual drops and is usually tinted brown or may contain blood.
  • After the water breaks, the contractions will become more regular, less spaced out in time and will intensify.

The contractions may also appear gently. They usually start out in the kidneys or in the lower back like a pain that comes and goes. The first contractions may resemble menstrual cramps, but more intense. Later on, they will work their way to your back and stomach.

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